Current approaches that define capacity in cognitive terms disregard concerns that emotional instability may disrupt capacity or that a person may be cognitively intact yet lack the capacity to give a valid consent. An alternative evaluative approach would be to view capacity holistically, as a combination of biological, psychological, and social (biopsychosocial) factors.
There appears to be a lack of consensus in the mental health field whether persons with a mental disorder-sole underlying medical condition can be adequately evaluated for capacity to consent to MAiD.
I suggest “an appreciation of the impact MAiD will have on family members and friends” be included in fulfilling the proposed amendment of the appreciation test for consenting to MAiD. The proposed amendment would not mandate being bound by others’ opinions, but that that lack of ability to appreciate the views of one’s significant others would demonstrate a lack of ability to apply the relevant information to one’s circumstances.
In Canada, the law no longer restricts medical assistance in dying (MAiD) to people whose death is reasonably foreseeable: as of March 17, 2023, people with a mental disorder as a sole underlying medical condition (MD-SUMC) will be eligible for MAiD.
I have found it uncommon for a family member or beneficiary to exert undue influence to pressure a patient to pursue MAiD. What worries me is the vulnerability of patients to undue influence from physicians who may embrace therapeutic nihilism and bias patients unduly towards MAiD. I suggest that, for capacity to consent to MAiD, the test of “ability to appreciate” should be expanded to require an appreciation of the views and wishes of supportive family members and friends.
The Consent and Capacity Board (“Board”) in Ontario is a quasi-judicial administrative tribunal which operates at arm’s length from the Ministry of Health. The Board convenes hearings and makes decisions under six pieces of legislation, but most hearings relate to the Health Care Consent Act (HCCA) and the Mental Health…
A clinical dilemma: a patient was diagnosed with dementia in the mild-to-moderate stage requested to be discharged home from hospital to live alone despite the opinion of the attorney for personal care and property that the patient is unsafe to do so. The clinical opinion was also that the patient…
Changes to MAiD laws will allow some patients whose deaths are foreseeable to provide advance directives regarding medical assistance in dying.
I suggest that improved screening for vulnerability to abuse is clearly needed for seniors appointing family members as attorneys for property.
Evaluation of decision-making capacity is inherent to the practice of law and medicine and is not the exclusive responsibility or expertise of either. Lawyers may need to assess (among other things) capacity to instruct counsel; to provide evidence; to stand trial; to appoint or revoke Powers of Attorney; to make…